The countdown has long been underway for the 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and it is HERE. Preparations at NRG Stadium can be seen daily. Of course there are many anxious Houstonians, but there will be people from all over the world, including cowboys, livestock exhibitors, commercial exhibitors, suppliers, dignitaries (former US presidents, current ambassadors along with Secret Service agents), and more than 2,500,000 spectators over the three-week-time period of the Show. Rodeo Houston begins with The World’s Champion Barbecue Competition that features more than 1,000 cook-off teams. Following the cook off, there will be performances by some of the biggest names in country music, daily pig races, carnival attractions and rides, agricultural exhibits, horseshow competitions, wine tasting events and much, much more. Let us not forget that it is a RODEO, the highest paying indoor rodeo in the world. While many seek entertainment and fun at the livestock show and rodeo, they often overlook its value to the greater Houston area.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo started giving scholarships in the late 1950s and has continued with the tradition for more than five decades. Just in 2015 alone, the Houston Rodeo has designated more than $24,000,000 to be given away in scholarships and grants for students desiring to continue their education. As a participant in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s public speaking competitions, firsthand experience says that the HLS&R does an incredible job in guiding students to be successful in their future endeavors, especially providing assistance to those in need. Since its beginning in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed nearly $375 million to scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble participants, junior show exhibitors, School Art participants, and other educational youth programs.
Aside from the various charitable and educational activities, the Houston Rodeo promotes Western heritage throughout Houston and the nation. Generations of Houstonians, including my family, have a history with the Show. More than 30,000 volunteers, serving on more than 200 committees, make the show a success. My grandparents have long been involved with buying auction animals, supporting livestock show participants. My father volunteers his time on the Ranching and Wildlife committee, a group that hosts a 4-day conference and seminar for ranchers and also runs a scholarship fundraising auction, offering hunting and fishing trips, saddles, artwork, boots, etc. My youngest brother raises livestock, and will participating the stock show this year for his 4th time. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo seems to transcend time in a way, having events such as the trail ride, cook off, and concerts which generations of families have been able to enjoy together.
Finally, the importance of the Houston Rodeo to the country music industry cannot be overlooked. I can still remember seeing country greats such as George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Rogers, and Alan Jackson perform at Rodeo Houston. There is hall showing former entertainers, including Elvis Presley, Roy Rogers and many more. This year some of the biggest names in country music such as Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, and Luke Bryan will be performing. The Houston Rodeo has been the most important rodeo in the country for promoting country music and keeping the western spirit alive, a long-standing tradition that will continue for years to come.